Dubai – In One Meeting

I had an early morning meeting in Jabal Ali Free Zone and I was told the permit takes some time. That was just the beginning of the whole shenanigans that was going to take place. We landed late last night, I pretty much wanted to crash but I didn’t seem to get much sleep for some reason. Instead we went early to the Free Zone and the took a lot longer then we thought, there were tons of lines for these trucks drivers and workers. After about an hour it was done and we went in, to say that Jabal Ali Free Zone is huge, is a complete understatement, its humongous, it took us 20 minutes to get to the warehouse inside and leaving took a little longer because of all the traffic. We managed to get a bite to eat at the hotel when the meeting was done and after that I snuck to go watch the G.I.Joe movie which I was looking forward to.

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One Meeting and Back

Something came up and we had to go to Bahrain for a meeting, checked on the flights and there wasn’t anything that fit our schedule so we decided to leave early in the morning. Took off to the border heading to Bahrain, the Khafji border didn’t take us 20 minutes and stereotypes are very true, we had nothing in the car and we wore dishdashas so at the border they stamped things quickly and at the Saudi Customs check they didn’t bother they just stamped and we went right through. We were on our way straight to Bahrain, we were discussing work, movies, and a ton of other things on the way there.

We go to Saudi/Bahrain border in under three hours which is pretty damn good but I also had a high average speed. This was pretty much a test for the Landcruiser crossing all the way to Bahrain, I wanted to see how the car handles and what it feels like. All I can say is that Toyota has created perfection with this machine, the drive was extremely smooth at speeds over 180kph, the brakes were fantastic and even with the heat we didn’t feel anything thanks to the excellent air conditioning and Huper Optik tint, the seats were very comfortable, great sound system, and the little fridge in the middle was very useful. We both had a spare dishdasha and chemaq ready for our meeting when we get there, it was that simple.

45 minutes from the border the gentlemen called us and delayed our meeting which worked to our benefit, called one of my friends and he gave me the address to Meat Co in Bahrain and we got to it, its in an Area called Aadliyah but they really changed it and it looks very nice. So many nice restaurants, I remember coming here back in November for GulfRun and it was all asphalt but now they made it even nicer with all the nice restaurants. Crossing the border in Bahrain took us about 45 minutes because of the traffic but we got in and had our lunch, we even had 45 minutes to spare which was perfect, we went into the meeting energized and ready. That went decently well to start with, but we need to have a few more meetings before we get into the project. We were done around 3:45 pm and we had some tea at a coffee shop and then headed to the border, we got there around 4:00 pm.

We got stuck at the Saudi/Bahrain Border for 1 hour and 36 minutes, I think snails were passing while we were stuck in that traffic and it wasn’t even a weekend. I was going nuts waiting, and we were getting tired from the wait, thats half the trip to Kuwait and I was hoping to be on the while there was sun light. We took off at around 5:40 pm, we just stopped at the gas station about 20 km from the border to pray, fill up gas, buy some candy and drinks to keep us energized the way back. Then I just took off, the lowest speed I was going at that point was 180 kph and tried keeping it at 200 kph. When in Bahrain and in Kuwait I drive around 120 to 140, but Saudi is like no man’s land, if you drive slow they run you off the road, so i just kept a high pace but you have to keep your eyes out for those changes in the road because of construction, there is always construction on that road, but its a straight line from Bahrain to Kuwait. We made great time, we go to the border at exactly 8:00 pm and it took us about 30 minutes to get through and even in Kuwait they didn’t bother checking the car which is funny because we could have snuck anything in. It was one hell of a trip but got a lot of work done and I got to test my car on a very long trip.

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One Day in Oman

On the way back I had a two and half hour delay leading to four hours and half in a 20 year old Oman Air lounge. Those were probably the most uncomfortable couches I ever sat on, and sitting on it for several hours led to some pain in my neck and back. Even with all that I just couldn’t get mad at the people working there, they were very nice, polite and apologetic. The plane was an old Boeing 737-700, the Omani flight attendant was very nice, even when I fell asleep before the flight she asked me if I wanted to eat when there was 10 mins left before landing, and the plane was very quickly even though it was very old.

Oman has a natural mountainous and green areas, surrounded by the sea, especially Muscat. It has some very nice windy roads up the mountainous areas and some very nice coastal roads by the sea. All the roads are very smoothly paved, even though you can tell some areas need work, but the roads are extremely clean, and so are the side walks. You just get this feeling that every where is clean in Oman, and it feels so refreshing.

I managed to visit Sultan Qaboos Mosque which is an amazing piece of architecture, and a real work of art. It just has this heart warming and majestic feeling when you walk into it, and what I found to be amazing is that it is open to the general public during morning times for visits. The Omani curator and security were very friendly and asked if they could help me, and were willing to give me short private tour but I was on a schedule and unluckily for me I didn’t have the time but its worth it to come back and see it. Every Omani person that I met was more then friendly and helpful, they were genuinely nice and whenever they found out I was Kuwaiti they were extra nice, I don’t even know how to explain it.

For some people who were asking I was staying at the Grand Hyatt since it was closer to the location where I had my meetings and it was a very nice hotel, nothing special as others have mentioned of Shangri-La and Chedi but it was nice nonetheless. The one thing that I can’t stop repeating is how nice every once, even the expats who get used to this place love it. They do say that somethings are a bit slow but you can live with it, but what I would surprising is that Oman was only introduced to DSL about 3 to 4 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to live like that, also there is a very sophisticated monitoring tool which makes our ISP blocking tools look like a cake walk. Oman is worth a visit again, I’m thinking about bringing my motorcycle for some nice rides and a good lunch. I didn’t have a enough time but I had a lot to take in. I always thought of Bahrainis as the nicest people in the Gulf, but I think the Omanis are even nicer, I don’t even know how to describe it, they are just extremely polite, nice, and kind people. Even during the meeting I felt embarrassed from one person who went out of his way, what an experience that I hope to repeat soon. I know I will be putting some mileage on my Landcruiser because I’m looking for a nice long drive and dragging my bike with me.

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In Oman

I came in late last night for a quick meeting that I have to attend and then back to Kuwait the next day. This is the first time I travel to Oman and surprisingly very few airlines fly to Oman. Oman Airways reminds me of Gulf Air back in the day, I refrained from having anything to eat on the plane even though I was hungry, I just had a gut feeling. Over the past year I have gotten used to planes having power plugs to run the laptop on so I didn’t charge my laptop this time around and so I only had about an hour of battery, but I passed out on my seat within 20 mins and slept the whole 2 hour flight to Muscat.

The airport looks like an old government building, but once you enter the people are very nice. Very nice is an understatement, they are extremely nice and the immigrations people were cracking jokes and asking why I don’t stay longer and next time to come in winter. The same case with the customs people, they were really nice, the driver we took from the airport was Omani as well and I just kept asking him questions. Their highway is very smooth and nice, and I asked about their speeding laws which seemed reasonable but everyone was driving in such a civil manner.

I don’t think there is much to do here, people were telling me about two specific hotels but they are resorts really and they said its mostly couples. What a very interesting country, but I should probably pass by when I’m not traveling for work.

The Disaster Plan!!

So as we were heading to the airport we got swamped by a Mummy like Sandstorm or what was previously referred to as a Desert Fubuki. All flight were stopped coming in and out of Kuwait, this all took place over a matter of hours. We went and checked in, had dinner at Pizza Express, the crowds were huge and there was dust inside the Airport.

We decided to head in and wait in the lounge. As soon you walk in, Pearl lounge was so packed that people were standing by the door. The only few seats left was in the smoking lounge, I really think that Pearl lounge needs to be refurbished and some new life brought into it.

Originally our flight was supposed to take off at 9:30 pm to arrive at 12:00 am for a 3:00am connection. Instead we were delayed about 4 hours and we didn’t take off until 1:30 am Kuwait time, so missing our connection and we were rescheduled for a 9:35 am flight from Dubai to Singapore. We were messed up, not the right amount of sleep, a lot of annoyed people, and its not really the airlines fault but we still went to complain. Luckily we were the first to complain at the Dubai transfer desk and so they gave us a room at the Meridian Hotel right next door and we only slept about two hours but thats something at least before heading to the airport which was a 2 minute drive. We head breakfast in the lounge, lunch on the plane, and as soon as it was off I watched 1.5 movies and passed out. All this huge adventure just to get to Singapore and all the meetings, we were supposed to land at 2:55 pm but instead we landed at 9:20 pm so we lost most of the first day, but to say that Singapore is amazing is a complete understatement.

Off to Singapore

I will be spending 72 hours in Singapore meeting two companies and going to a technology expo for my field. Its one way to meet my suppliers as well as see what else is out there. We are taking Emirates Airlines since they have the best scheduling and suprisingly the cheapest prices out of all the prices we took a look at.

I have been hearing lots of things about Singapore for years, about the rules, the beautiful city, amazing places to go, resutaurants, and people. This came up pretty quick, so I don’t have a clue where to go eat but thats what I keep wondering about.

Lebanon in 26 Hours

Work has been piling up and I have been delaying a meeting in Lebanon for a few weeks but now I have to go to finsih one long meeting. I was supposed to go last week but due to unforseen circumstances I wasn’t able to. I’m going today on the Wataniya flight, which luckily for me they changed the schedule and now they have two flights a day to and from Lebanon. If I could I would go in early morning and come back at night, I have this tendency with business trips to try to keep them as short as humanely possible. A lot of people have been telling me to postpone the meeting to a later date because of the elections but I have few in the systems that nothing drastic as the airport being shutdown will happen, well at least I’m crossing my fingers, I have too much damn work to be stuck in one location. One thing is that I’m going to do is eat from Al Farouq for their amazing shawarama, I just love good shawarmas and theirs is damn good.

Amman

I don’t think I would have visited Jordan if it wasn’t for work and its one very interesting country. The airport is very small and is in need of major renovation, but they have state of the art security, I noticed all the cameras were new and the systems were relatively new. The people at the airport were nice, and I waited a little while for my luggage to come out of the belt.

The airport is about a 25 to 30 minute ride from the city, all the areas are just empty plot of lands and its a two to three lane highway to the city. As soon as you go in, its hilly just like Lebanon but a little different. I stayed at the Sheraton hotel which is decent, not the best but it did the job and they had a decent internet connection. Went to a few meetings over two days, the weather was amazing and I had my camera with me but for the first time when I’m about to snap some pictures some police men and soldiers asked me what I was doing. Basically I’m not supposed to take pictures of anything that has any security related to it.

Went to a few nice places around Amman, mostly Arab restaurants with good food. The service is decent but not the same as Lebanon sometimes you feel like the waiter doesn’t feel like working today or you caught him on a bad day. I also had dinner at a colleagues place and I have to say that people are very hospitable. Its seems that the people from the Gulf seem to have a bad reputation in Jordan, I got that feeling and when I asked they mentioned what happens in some places in Amman. Abdoon is one of the nicer areas in Amman, and there are a lot of round abouts which people just drive right through. I passed by this area which looked like a fortress and turned out to be the American Embassy, its practically huge, I didn’t think it would be that big, there must be at least 10 buildings in that compound and thats all I can see from one side.

Third morning was my flight back to Kuwait on Royal Jordanian, easy check and the staff is friendly. I have to say I was impressed by their lounge. It was very spacious and comfortable with food availabe, lots of comfortable seating, also movie chairs for people to watch what they want. It was an interesting trip, next time around I want to go to Aqabah and plan for it, its about four hours away by car so I didn’t have a chance to go this time around.

12 hrs +

It was just one of those days, got to work around 8 am and didn’t get home until 10:30 pm. Was at work for about 12 hours then headed to one of parliamentary candidate talks later in the evening with a few members of the family. Sometimes you don’t have enough time to finish the work at hand, and the most annoying thing is when you email somebody and they say they didn’t receive it or just ignore when you have work to do or you need some details from them.

After work took off to the nadwah didn’t have enough time to change, didn’t think it was going to be too long but I was exhausted and I knew there was going to be a grid lock. I parked my car far enough away to enjoy the walk to the school auditorium, lots of people were out tonight and the place was packed. Nice to see a very large female turn out and they had half the hall. After a very interesting speech, everyone was saying good bye, all I could think of at that point was food. Not eating all day makes my brain non-functional.

A/C Out!

Got up in the morning headed to work, weather was deecent on Thursday morning. All was well, plugged in my laptop, checked my emails and a few people. About an hour later I strange buzzing sound and a sudden smell, turns out the smell was of a burnt out fuse. With that the power sockets and A/C went out in my side of the building, luckily other side had more employees they still had power and A/C but no lights, so they could still work. After about a few hours my laptop ran out of power and I was going back and forth talking to people and writing things down. By 3 pm the room was really warm, it got a bit muggy, and I had a ton of paper notes on my table with spread sheets, quotes and proposals. It wasn’t fixed for a while since the electrician wasn’t available, lets just say its not nice to work in a hot office.